The traditional Hawaiians used many plants, fruits and flowers in their daily lives. The Ki, or Ti, was a very widely used plant long ago and is still used today.
The Ti leaves were used for making remedies for headaches and also wrapped around hot stones for hot packs. It is widely used for wrapping food for cooking and even used for decorative clothing, like skirts and capes. Hawaiians also used the wide leaves of this plant for their roofs and even for sandals.
The Hawaiians revered the Ki, which was brought from the early Polynesians when they settled in Hawaii. It was and still is used to ward off evil spirits and used in their religious ceremonies. Today people in Hawaii still plant the Ti around the four corners of their homes to ward off the evil spirits.
The Ti plant has many varieties and colors. They come in colors of green and red and pink. You can find green with white stripes. Red with pink stripes, and even green and pink varieties. It is easily propagated, as all you need to do is cut the stalk of the plant and stick this piece in the ground. It will soon make new roots for a new plant when watered regularly. The main plant that was cut will re-grow with sometimes two new shoots.
Ti is still regularly used for decorating for parties and making hula skirts. When the Ti has grown new roots it is a very low maintenance plant that requires little attention and has little to no diseases or insect enemies. Although in Hawaii the gecko enjoys hiding in the cool leaf stalks.
The Ti leaf is used to make a wonderful food called laulau, which is some butterfish, and pork wrapped in taro leaves, and then wrapped in the Ti leaves to help steam the food. You can use spinach leaves in place of the taro leaves if they are not available to you. To make the Ti leaf as a wrap you need to devain it, as it has a thick fibrous stalk. The laulau is then placed into an imu. An imu is a pit dug into the ground that has lots of rocks with banana leaves and so on. Start a fire in the pit and place the rocks into it. The banana leaves and Ti leaves are placed upon the rock to create the steam to cook the food. The food is placed into the imu and then covered so the food can cook. You can also steam the laulau in a steamer if you don’t feel like digging a hole in your yard.
The Ti is a very versatile plant, beautiful and useful for hundreds of years.
The Ti Plant Called Ki
by Dino Labiste
Instructions for Creating an Authentic Hawaiian Underground Imu Pit